Hairdressers are really smart, intuitive people. Mine especially can really get me to thinking sometimes. I've know her for years - since Sweetie was small. And while I haven't usually been terribly consistent about going to her, possibly taking up to more than a year off from visits at times, whenever I do go back she's there with a big smile, always happy to see me and interested in a "life" update. And - maybe most importantly - she always remembers exactly how I like my hair done. Yay!
And, so it was when I last visited her about a month ago. At the time, I was freshly off another big drama-fest with Sweetie. My hairdresser has a 16 year old daughter, as well as a college-aged daughter, so she was right there with me, able to both commiserate and provide useful insight to help get me through.
One of the things I was mentioning to her, though, is not something that's a newfound issue I have with Sweetie. No, this particular personality trait is just an aspect of Sweetie's regular ol' ways. And you might think that I as a parent would actually be appreciative of this part of Sweetie's behavior. And I am, mostly. But somethings…
What I'm talking about is the fact that Sweetie is not an overly excitable child. You know? Like those kids who get so unbelievably jumping-and-screaming-around-the-room excited when you tell them about an upcoming surprise trip you've planned for the family, or they open up THE MOST AWESOME GIFT EVER on their birthday or Christmas? Or they get super duper can't-sleep-at-night/wake up jibber-jabbering about whatever thrilling event is ALMOST HERE!!!? Yeah. No. Not Sweetie. She is a cool cucumber in the midst of even the most awesome of awesome life events. Happy, yes! Excited, sure! But as far as what's outwardly displayed, you'll just see a smily, politely grateful girl happy to receive the news or gift you're presenting, or as she thinks about the upcoming fun event that's to happen in the near future.
So - yay! What's the problem? Well, nothing really. It's actually pretty nice that we can have calm, slow Christmas mornings - taking our time together before we all decide it's time to go downstairs for breakfast treats and a look into our stockings. And I have to say that, if I did have a crazy excitable kid bouncing off the walls of my house for every new and great thing, I would have to drink a LOT more wine than I already do. Chill out, already! Calm the heck down! No. It wouldn't suit me very well at all. And so, it really is a pretty great thing to have a politely grateful, happily calm kid.
However, there are those times when I myself get so freakin' excited about giving particular gifts, or wondering just how much Sweetie will LOVE particular life experiences and opportunities. And then… eh. Politely grateful. Happily content with life. Everything's just cool. Everything's just fine.
So many camera shots poised for that perfect pic of Sweetie opening THE BEST GIFT EVER!! Only to witness in person, and then remember forever through photos, that the actuality of her reactions are way, way more subdued than I'd ever have thought they could ever be. So many times I've wonder all day long how Sweetie is liking the field trip she's on/ the first day of camp/ the amusement park trip with friends/ etc., for me to come home and excitedly bombard her with questions… only to be answered with quiet, albeit smily, affirmations of fun had. No stories about the best part of the day. No blow-by-blow reviews of every little detail. Just a happy smile that she did indeed have fun on whatever big outing she'd just returned from.
Bah. Fine. Be that way. Ya fun-crasher.
Case in point, that I happened to be detailing for my hairdresser that day about a month ago, was this past Christmas morning when Sweetie opened up her last gift - a gift from us that all her other gifts (which were from Santa) were leading up to through clues. The best gift ever!!!! She was going to be so shocked and surprised and crazy excited like you couldn't even imagine!!! My heart was beating in excitement and my camera was ready to capture it all.
But then she opened it - Tickets to see Matilda: The Musical on Broadway! - and she… was politely, happily thankful. For something I KNEW she really wished she could go see. For something I KNEW she'd absolutely love! For a trip experience I was 1000% positive was so completely her. And, yes, all of that is and was so true. She really was very happy and excited to receive this gift! But just in her own quiet, calm way. It's just her way.
I should have learned by now. Like I said, years of Christmas gifts I knew she'd be so completely stoked about! All met with the same quiet, polite happiness and gratitude.
What a let down, though, when I keep building my expectations of her reactions so high. I must stop it!
BUT… swing things the other way, when things go terribly wrong in her world… then you will get your reaction! Hoo boy, will you get a reaction! (No need for me to demonstrate "cases in point" here, as the last several posts, I think, can showcase and explain this all very nicely.)
And so… getting back to the greatness and intuitiveness that is my hairdresser… after hearing this Christmas story, and about how Sweetie is this not-crazily-excitable kid in general, she suggested, "Well, to me that just says that she's always happy. Always content. Life, to her, is just one big great thing after another, so no extraordinary expressions of being really great are warranted. But, when things slip below her typical ballpark "great" range, then you hear about it. Everything's great for her… until it's not."
Well, now. Duh.
What, after all, is Sweetie's typical answer when asked how she is? "Great!" Always has been, always will be. We've never taught her that she should answer with "great." She just started, ever since she could answer that question, and that has remained her baseline. Sweetie. She is great.
Of course, now with preteen issues, emotions and craziness tossed in the mix, her baseline has been thrown for a loop. Maybe even, perhaps, making Sweetie's preteen dramas even that much more traumatizing for her because she's so used to being nothing but great all the time. If she were always "fine" and now, with hormones raging, she found that life was a little less fine - well now, at least that's not as big a fall as it is from "great" to "less fine." She's falling bigger, maybe. By her own standards and, therefore, by ours when we witness her huge meltdowns to typically small-potatoes happenings.
There you have it, folks. Sweetie is and always has been "great." She's not just saying it - she's living it! Always content. Always happy. Always great.
Until she's not.
We're just here to help soften the landing when she falls from such great heights.
I think we can do that. I know we'll do our best.